Cardiff students on Capitol Hill: What do they have to say about the riots?
“Talybont is better at keeping people out than the capitol security”
The turmoil of the US election has been going on for several years, with President Donald Trump’s appointment becoming a very controversial matter. However, on 7th January 2021, it appeared the aftermath of the US election was far from over, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in Washington DC.
What happened on Wednesday?
Unhappy with the upcoming inauguration of new President Joe Biden, pro-Trump supporters managed to get themselves into the Capitol building, smashing windows, stealing items, and posing on the office chairs of Congress members. An explosive device was found and contained, one woman was shot dead and four others pronounced dead.
It was an uproar that many saw coming, but we wanted to find out what Cardiff’s students had to say from this side of the pond. Here were their thoughts…
It showed the problems with white privilege
Several Cardiff students claimed that the riot at the Capitol was a matter of race inequality, and displayed “white privilege at its finest”. Others questioned why it was allowed to happen when there was such a large defense presence at the Black Lives Matter protests in the same location last June.
Belgian Politician, Guy Verhofstadt, tweeted this photo after the Capitol Hill riot this month, comparing it to the Black Lives Matter protest and the differences in treatment of the protesters. Whereas in the BLM protest, the steps leading to the Capitol Building were covered with members of the National Guard, protesters at the riots this month managed to make it inside the building and walked around freely.
One student explained that “hypocrisy, bigotry and systemic racism is so obvious” in this event, and “If it was blm protestors it’s a whole different story”.
It was a display of terrorism, nothing else
Many Cardiff students condemned the Capitol Building riots as a display of terrorism, with students commenting, “it was terrorism they’re alllll protected by their white privilege”, and “they are terrorists”. Since the event, there has been around 70 charges and 160 cases opened. One of the most noticed rioters was a male who goes by the name of ‘Q Shaman’, seen wearing fur horns and a painted face. The 33-year-old was one of the 70 charges made, as he was arrested for violent entry and disorderly conduct.
Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia agreed that the event was an “unprecendented terrorist attack” in her letter to the US Department of Homeland Security.
‘Talybont is better at keeping people out than the capitol security’
Some students joked that Talybont residence halls would be better at keeping people out than the Capitol security guards managed to.
To prevent a repeat of this event, Twitter and several other social media platforms banned Donald Trump, explaining “we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence”. Twitter released this statement on Friday 8th January, stating, “we made it clear going back years that these accounts are not above our rules entirely and cannot use Twitter to incite violence”.
‘In the words of Helen, idiots absolute idiots’
On Monday, a Cardiff lecturer accidentally leaked a video where she called students “idiots” for wanting a safety net policy this year. Since the event, Helen has become a Cardiff-wide meme. One student we spoke to joked that, “they should send Helen from Head of Extenuating Circumstances” to sort the situation out.
Several students in Cardiff described the Capitol Hill riots with Helen’s language, calling them, “Idiots. It’s embarrassing knowing how immature uneducated adults can be”. Most of the students we spoke to condemned the riots, with one student claiming “It’s a threat to and an insult to the democracy that the US prides itself on”, and “America embarrassed themselves”.
‘Love the memes and Biden is gonna be a bad president’
Some Cardiff students had a lot to say about new President Biden, questioning whether he will be able to take on the role. On the other hand, one joked, “Biden would easily win defending the capitol if he got to 1 on 1 with them all”.
The FBI have warned that Trump supporters are planning another riot at Capitol Hill and across the US on Inauguration Day where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in, and Donald Trump will have to hand over his title. However, security officials claim that there will be no repeat of the breach where five died on Wednesday, with over 10,000 of the National Guard being placed in the Capital, 2,000 more than were at President Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
One American citizen studying in Cardiff explained, “As an American citizen, it’s terrifying. And I don’t think it’s going to stop on Jan 20th”, worrying for the events that might unfold.
Should we have seen this coming?
Many Cardiff students weren’t shocked at the riots, stating, “If you didn’t see it coming you haven’t been paying attention”. Others worried deeply for the future of politics, “wondering if we’ll ever achieve peace”. For some, it was “A very sad day for liberal democracies the world over”, as it showed what little faith some have in the democratic system.
President Trump released a video on Twitter during the riots, thanking rioters for their work, pleading “we love you but go home”, also stating that “we had an election that was stolen from us”. He went on to say “It was a landslide election and everyone know it, especially the other side”, which has spurred on many of his supporters to protest the outcome of the vote, although investigations prove no foul play was involved.
One Cardiff student told The Cardiff Tab that “British opinion on US affairs stopped mattering in 1776” when the Declaration of Independence severed political ties between the US and the UK. Another student told The Cardiff Tab that tech companies had a large role to play in the riots, stating that the riots were, “wrong and anti democratic but it’s also scary that big tech companies can control so much”.
Cardiff students thankfully condemned the violence that took place on Wednesday at Capitol Hill and were disgusted at the contrast in response with the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred last August. Many students worry that the event will repeat itself on Inauguration Day when Joe Biden becomes President of the United States.
Feature Image: Instagram / @realdonaldtrump